Much like his pal Matt Nieto, he grew up a Kings fan and dreamed of being a professional hockey player. Nieto, a rookie for the San Jose Sharks this season, and Etem, who retained rookie status despite debuting with the Anaheim Ducks in 2012-13, are two of the best examples of the meteoric rise of youth hockey in Southern California.
The sport is flourishing at all levels in California, and the three NHL teams were all among the League's elite this season. Etem's Ducks will try to do what Nieto's Sharks could not: Eliminate the favorite team of his youth from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"I definitely listened to [Kings play-by-play announcer] Nick Nickson a lot on the radio, that sort of stuff. It's a dream come true to play against them in a series," Etem said. "It's huge. Even the last matchup between San Jose and the Kings. Both of them combined, it's huge for the game here.